The town was largely initiated by wheat farmers and wheat transporters in the late 19th century who needed infrastructure to ship their produce across the Gulf St. Vincent to Port Adelaide. The site was chosen near an old boat landing at Parara. It was named by Governor Fergusson after the Ardrossan seaport in Scotland and it was proclaimed on 5 November 1873.
A jetty was constructed in 1878 to accommodate the steamships and windjammers used to ship grain. Today this jetty forms a major attraction to anglers.
The Stump-Jump Plough
Ardrossan is famous as the location of Clarence Smith's factory where he manufactured the Stump-jump plough between 1880 and 1935, one of South Australia's first and most important inventions. One of the old buildings now provides an ideal home for the Museum.
Stump Jump Plough
The ingenuity of early settlers was evident when in 1876 the laborious backbreaking work of clearing mallee stumps became a practical proposition with the invention of the ‘stump jump plough'.
Invented by R.B and Clarence Smith this invention helped revolutionize the task of reducing the despised mallee scrub. This was also assisted by knocking down and burning the growth of the mallee trees discovered by Charles Mullens at Wasleys, and the improvement of scrub rollers by William Fowler which allowed a team to travel over already rolled scrub.
Ardrossan is known as the home of the stump jump plough and the ingenuity of the Smith Brothers is remembered and showcased at the local Ardrossan and Districts Historical Museum. Open Sundays and Public Holidays from 2.30-4.30pm or by appointment.
During the early 1900s, the town expanded significantly due to income from the surrounding farms.
After the depression in the 1930s, the town and its businesses were largely stagnant until a large open-cut dolomite mine was opened by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) in the 1950s for use in its steel manufacture at Whyalla on the Eyre Peninsula and Port Kembla in New South Wales. A new one kilometre (3,300 ft) long jetty was added and at the same time construction was started with grain storage silos. The new jetty currently services ships loading dolomite and salt from the solar salt pans at Price, approximately 10 km north. There is a great lookout point near the open cut mine.
With mining exploration taking place south of the town, there are great prospects for the town. The exploration company, Rex Minerals has an office in the main street and there is ongoing community liaison. Rex Minerals offers free trips around the closed areas by prior arrangement.
Today, tourism plays a large part in Ardrossan's economy with the town being a popular destination for Adelaide residents on weekends. It is a popular location to catch fish and blue crabs which are abundant during the months of September to April each year. The beach is safe for swimming and the views of the majestic red cliffs are particularly stunning at sunrise.
The town has much to offer in the way of employment and services. With great shopping, and a wide range of accommodation, Ardrossan is an ideal base from which to explore the Yorke Peninsula. We pride ourselves on our wide range of community groups for young and old.